Letter to the Editor: Hoover Didn’t Show Any Fiscal Restraint

Re: “Amendment would cripple government, devastate Americans,” Oct. 23 commentary:

Where did Andy Schmookler get the strange idea that former President Herbert Hoover practiced “fiscal discipline” during the Great Depression? Hoover more than doubled government spending as a percentage of the economy during his term in office, resulting in a deficit that was more than half the size of the federal budget by 1932. He never practiced any kind of fiscal discipline.

Yet Schmookler falsely claims that “President Herbert Hoover’s form of fiscal discipline made the Great Depression worse.” What made the Depression worse was not fiscal discipline, which was nonexistent at the time, but the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff. That massive tariff increase, which Hoover signed into law over objections from hundreds of economists, led to ruinous trade wars with foreign countries that wiped out most of the jobs in America’s export sector.